Whether through choice or circumstance, many retirees find themselves single and without children during their Golden Years. Those who always envisioned heading into retirement hand-in-hand with their partner may feel bewildered by the concept of living alone.
Here is our guide to the extra things single retirees need to consider for a happy, healthy retirement.
Considerations of Daily Living
If you live in a house, you’ll likely need someone to help with upkeep – whether it be lawn maintenance or fixing a broken water heater. For these odd jobs, find someone you can trust and stick with them. Take your due diligence to the next level – don’t merely rely on Angie’s List or Yelp. Choose someone whom your friends and family members use or someone who comes with multiple recommendations – for not only doing the job right at a fair price but for being an upstanding, trustworthy individual.
One upside to apartment living is that management will take care of such maintenance and repair issues. If you prefer to live in a house but want that apartment-level of support, consider moving to a home community that provides lawn and other services through an HOA or management company.
Among your options are “naturally recurring retirement communities” (NRRC). These are housing developments in which at least 40% of the population is age 60 or older. NRRCs often offer on-site services to seniors by partnering with health care providers, social service agencies and other organizations.
Then there are the continuing care retirement communities — also known as life plan communities. Here, you’ll find arrangements that range from independent living to skilled nursing. As you need more services, you move from one setup to the next.
And, there is a rather new mode of housing known as Cohousing. This is a bit like a modern commune. Members generally buy their own apartment or home then pay monthly membership dues to be part of the community. There are common areas for meals, socializing and events. Most, however, aren’t set up to provide the specialized care you may require as you age. Check out cohousing.org for more information.
Another possibility: good old-fashion home sharing. Think Golden Girls, cheesecake optional!
A-List Health Team
Hopefully, you have a long-established relationship with a doctor you know and trust. Even if you do, you may also want to start consulting with a geriatric specialist who is more familiar with the aging process. Be mindful of the cost of care. Yes, you will have Medicare, but it doesn’t pay for everything. There will still be copays and prescription drug costs to account for in your monthly budget.
Extra care, such as a home health aide or residence in a skilled nursing facility, can be expensive, too. Consider long-term-care insurance as an option to keep your nest egg intact should you need these services. Genworth Financial estimates the average cost of hiring a home health aide is $22 per hour – almost $46,000 a year for a 40-hour week. Plus, the median price of a private room in a nursing home is now $267 per day. You can see how these costs can add up quickly. Plus, Medicare doesn’t generally pay for these services, so you’re on your own here.
Trusted Financial Professional Team
This one seems like a no-brainer, but you may be surprised to hear that about one-third of folks go it alone when it comes to managing their investments. Due diligence is critical here, too. As you vet your potential new advisor be sure to ask how she is compensated. It should be a fee-only system. An advisor can offer significant value to your portfolio and retirement strategy.
Solid Estate Plan
When you’re a single retiree, a concrete estate plan is paramount. Make sure you have the most critical documents in place – a Financial Power of Attorney and an Advance Directive for Health Care. These two documents direct who will manage your money and make health care decisions on your part (respectively) if you get sick and are unable to do them yourself. You probably also will want to have a will and may consider setting up a trust. Talk with an estate planning attorney (that you’ve researched and comes recommended) to get these documents in place.
Close-Knit Support Network
I’ve written a lot about Blue Zones. I’m fascinated by these places on Earth where residents live longer than average. In my readings on the topic, I came across something especially fascinating – people in Okinawa have something called “moais.” This term refers to a group of five friends who have committed to each other for life. Research shows that happiness is contagious, so the social circles of long-lived people have favorably shaped their health behaviors.
If you don’t have a close circle of friends whom you can rely on for anything, start building those relationships. These are the people you can call in an emergency. It’s like family, except you get to choose the members. And you don’t have to limit your moais to five people!
More is more.